It is fundamental to RC theory that all humans are good, are intelligent, that the reality of the world is benign, and that the power to see that things go right is inherent in each person. Yet all of us were born into a world in which the intelligence and goodness of the humans waiting for us were impaired by distress recordings, and the structure of society was that of interwoven, systematic hurts and oppressions. It is easily proven that the underlying reason for each of these oppressions is economic.

This is clearly seen in reviewing the histories of imperialist nations. Time and again they invaded other countries; overbore, enslaved, and exploited the indigenous peoples; and pillaged the natural resources of their successive conquests. This exploitation continues in the present. It can be argued that all of the world’s ills, including famines, wars, pollution, global warming, ozone depletion, the unchecked spread of disease, starvation, slavery, and class oppression are the result of people seeking and making a profit.

What would have to be done to human beings to convince them to initiate and maintain this state of affairs? The hurts experienced by owning-class children are not unique, but the systematic ways in which they have been enforced and their particular combination have done a thorough job in preparing owning-class young people for their future oppressor roles.

In order to thoroughly condition such intelligent human beings, they must be isolated, separated from reality, and given consistently confusing and misleading information. This is the essence of the damage done to owning-class children.


A heavy pattern of isolation is  installed by separating young people from those closest to them. Historically, the “noble”-born infant was handed over to a wet nurse at birth. Many owning-class children are still handed over from birth to the care of others. Siblings are separated as older children are sent away to school, sometimes as young as at four years of age. I have known of twins who were separated and sent to different boarding schools because they were “too close.” When young people are regarded as too affectionate with the nanny or another care-giver, the employee can be fired, and the child is offered no explanation. The children are left grieving, believing themselves to be responsible for the employee’s hurt and for their own hurt—all because they had a close relationship.

Young people often spend ten or more years in boarding schools, away from their families for up to eight months each year. These institutions, boasting the privilege of a superb education, are breeding grounds for the harsh, dominant, overbearing patterns that are necessary if the owning class is to maintain the capitalist society. Young people, divorced from all that is familiar, have to handle loneliness, fear, and fierce pressure from their peers and teachers and have to conform to the appearances required of them. In addition, these institutions keep privileged young people distanced from contact with any groups other than the owning class.

Patterned self-reliance and silent endurance are fostered by this enforced isolation. Young people are heavily conditioned to suppress the discharge process and deny feelings. They are commended and rewarded for stoicism, self-reliance, silent endurance, and for trivializing their difficulties. Owning-class children are not permitted to complain or ask for help. Men are similarly mistreated to force them into an oppressor role.

Self-doubt is deeply instilled by a deliberate distortion of reality. All the instinctive and intuitive forms of loving, power, intelligence, creativity, closeness, cooperation, and thinking are belittled or decried, and a false sense of values is installed in their place, along with masses of misinformation about society and the world. It is the profound humiliation, confusion, and disbelief in self caused by this process that are remembered and discharged when patterns of arrogance and control are contradicted and challenged.

Self-importance becomes one of the false values that is installed. Wealth, position, appearance, knowing the right people, having been to the right places, and having a good education become the means of measuring one’s worth. These false values hide the hollow, just-below-the-surface feeling of having no value at all.

Fear plays a major role in the conditioning of owning-class children. Their world makes no sense to them, and this alone is frightening. They are afraid because they have been forced into isolation and have often been physically punished and/or sexually abused. This is carried out in an environment in which there is absolute denial that anything is wrong. There is frequently wealth, privilege, beauty, opportunity, space, and even opulence. The day-to-day training is geared toward pretending that all is well. It is helpful to remember that the worst manifestations of owning-class behavior are cloaking heavy terror. Since everything is built on a sham, there is fear that someone might suspect something is wrong, or that an outsider might discover how worthless and ineffective owning-class people believe themselves to be. The patterns of control—taking charge of situations and dictating what happens; stating how people must behave, think, or feel—are the rigid manifestations of this fear. They are necessary if the wealth and resources of the world are to be controlled by a small segment of the population and the majority of working people kept in their oppressed roles.


Since the initial ties to others have been systematically severed and isolation installed, it becomes very difficult for the owning-class person to relate to anyone at all. In addition, the misinformation given about other groups of people causes owning-class people to operate with pretense, hidden desperation, confusion, frantic neediness, contempt, condescension, and arrogance in their relationships to others. Nowhere is this more evident than in their dealings with working-class people.


More often than not, the earliest relationships of an owning-class child with a care-giver or servant working for the family were the closest and most real ones the young person experienced. Nearly all owning-class people can recall some connection during their childhood when the humanness of their relationship with a working-class  person showed up classism for the contrivance and folly that it was. If the oppressor training was to work, these connections were counterproductive. Being close to working-class people, going to their homes, knowing about their lives, had to be made difficult if not impossible. Stories abound of owning-class and working-class children being separated from each other—the working-class child who came to play was sent away; the owning-class child was prohibited from playing in her friend’s home. And, as previously mentioned, owning-class children whose relationships to care-givers were seen as too close were separated from the employees, with the grieving children believing themselves to be responsible for the employees’ dismissal—just because they were close.

By the time the owning-class child is nine or ten years old, the distancing from and misinformation about working-class people is well-developed. Owning-class people are trained to believe they are responsible for the working class and at the same time conditioned to be afraid of working-class people. (Details of the French Revolution are legion.) They are taught how to “manage” them and to believe that they have the right to make use of and exploit them. They are explicitly taught to view themselves as superior.


The owning class are conditioned to believe that they do not exploit middle-class people. The reality is that the owning class make use of middle-class people and keep their distance from them. There is rarely any history of closeness. There is fear and suspicion that successful middle-class people might “make it” into the owning class, and a determination that the middle-class people will not be allowed to succeed. Some aspects of middle-class internalized oppression, such as fear, pretense, and silence, mirror owning-class patterns, and owning-class people cannot stand to be exposed to them.


Being close to each other, trusting each other, coming through for each other are extremely difficult for owning-class people. The conditioning that was designed to separate owning-class young people from the rest of society so that they could govern and control it for their own ends started first with separating them from each other. The end result is a form of internalized oppression that has put owning-class people in cruel competition with each other. Where wealth is the issue, they are often conditioned to take each other over with little or no regard for the human involved. Witness the takeover of a bank by another, or a multinational corporation by another. Marriages were originally property or ownership deals (and sometimes still are) with no concern for the women who were being used in this way. Sometimes, when owning-class people are under attack, the ranks may close, and they may cover up for each other in order to protect themselves. But more often, they find those who are “expendable” and sacrifice those people in order to deflect the attack. The first in line to be sacrificed are, of course, the Jews.


Rich Jews are encouraged and enabled to belong to the owning-class for precisely this reason: they are the scapegoats held in reserve for the day when the attacks against the owning class are too severe. This means that the policy of anti-Semitism has to be kept alive and active throughout society as a whole, and owning-class relationships with Jews implement this policy. There may be “acceptance” within owning-class ranks, but there is neither real liking nor intimacy. The contempt and treachery that keep anti-Semitism alive are just below the surface.

These four groups—working class, middle class, owning class and Jews—are mentioned because the conditioning is specifically about maintaining a class (profit-making) society. All groups of people are difficult for owning-class people to relate to in a human way because owning-class people have been kept in ignorance about them, separated from them, misinformed about them, and made afraid of them. 


One of the curious, contradictory aspects of the conditioning of owning-class people is that they are expected to be “good” to other people. Those “less fortunate,” the “downtrodden,” become objects of owning-class charity. This charity is often the only form their relationships take, which is clearly illustrated by the treatment of people with disabilities. 

Many a well-known owning-class person heads up a charity for people with disabilities. This is a group as isolated from society as the owning class, for precisely the opposite reason. Owning-class people are trained to govern or manage society and are raised in the ways I have mentioned in order to do so. The purpose of all of this training, conditioning, separation, and imposed confusion is so that owning-class people may accrue and control the world’s wealth. The child with a disability is seen as non-productive, of no use in a profit-focused society, and so is kept separate and “quiet” as much as possible and may even be prevented from being born at all. Micheline Mason, RC International Liberation Reference Person for Inclusion, has said to me that if every human gathering of any kind for any purpose were set up in such a way that the person with the greatest disability could be in the midst and able to function to his or her fullest capacity, capitalism would be at an end. In their treatment of people with disabilities, however generous, kind, or well-intentioned, owning-class people have no sense of that concept. 


It seems almost universal that the first thing an owning-class young person is taught about money is to save it. Earliest memories of money reveal confusion, fear, and double standards. The very wealthy repeatedly reveal a sense of having no control over the management of money and no idea of how much money is involved, this often being shrouded in mystery. Owning-class people tell tales of how on the day of their inheritance they were prevailed upon to sign documents that gave control of the wealth to someone else. Fear of losing wealth or being without is instilled at a very young age. This fear goes hand in hand with the unadmitted sense of inadequacy and ineffectiveness about fending for oneself or relying on one’s own resources. The confusion between one’s own real worth and the amount of money and possessions one owns is deep. Owning-class people are rendered unable to think in this area. To be invited to divest themselves of their wealth brings up the starkest terrors for discharge. The reactive training is to hold on to wealth, to re-invest it, and to use it in such a way that it accrues more and more. All the patterns outlined earlier are in operation here: denial; secrecy; ignorance; pretense; ungenerosity; and heavy, heavy, fear.

Ownership of wealth, businesses, land, stocks, etc., is the reason for all the conditioning and hurts noted in this article. However, even when wealth has long since been lost, the owning-class patterns can remain and continue to be passed on to the next generation, with all the contagion of distress. Newly-acquired wealth in any great quantity can bring separation and terror within a generation to formerly working- or middle-class persons.


That question is easily answered. All that we know within RC about listening with respect, being close, loving the person and challenging the pattern, stating and re-stating the essential goodness of the person, is enough to bring heavy discharge. The owning-class young person experienced little kindness. When kindness and closeness are offered, and the pretense that nothing bad happened is challenged, the groundwork is laid for effective challenging of patterns of arrogance, control, superiority, lack of awareness, and pretense. All the deep humiliation and self-loathing that underpins these patterns will be able to be discharged in an environment of safety and respect. There is enormous relief for an owning-class person in realizing that the confusion was deliberately installed, that she or he really is ignorant about the world, and that it is safe to ask for help. If owning-class people know they are loved and wanted, that is contradiction enough for all the hurts to be discharged. Add to that the decision to take action toward becoming allies of working-class people and giving up or giving back inherited, unearned wealth, and the greatest insecurities (usually early incidents of abuse) will surface for discharge and the road to re-emergence will be wide open.

There has to be a clear commitment on the part of owning-class people, no matter how frightening, to end classism, to become active in working-class liberation and the liberation of all oppressed groups, and to face the issue of divestiture of wealth. Otherwise, counseling becomes merely another outlet for the self-centered pattern to manifest itself in seeking attention in order to feel better.

Owning-class people are a group of ordinary people, hurt in particular ways, whose liberation is neither more important nor less important than that of any other group of people.

Jo Saunders
Hants, England
March, 1993

I promise to use every advantage of the privileges I have enjoyed to work toward eliminating all forms of privilege and creating a world of equals.

Last modified: 2014-10-07 17:50:59+00